Infectious Diseases:


List of Conditions


Travelers who choose to have intimate contact with new partners are at increased risk for acquiring sexually transmitted diseases, including AIDS. The risk of developing an STD may be decreased by use of latex condoms and diaphragms with a spermicide.

AIDS, as well as other diseases, also may be transmitted by injections with unsterile, contaminated needles or by blood transfusions. For this reason, blood transfusion should only be performed in a medical emergency. The attending physician should be asked about HIV (AIDS) testing of the blood, or travelers may contact the local American Embassy about obtaining tested blood. In some cases, American expatriates or fellow travelers may be able to donate blood directly. Travelers should avoid injections from reusable needles and/or syringes unless there are life-threatening circumstances.


Dengue is a viral illness transmitted by day-biting mosquitoes in many tropical areas. There are no vaccines or pills to prevent this illness and symptoms are similar to those of malaria: high fever and chills at least one week after the bite of an infected mosquito. Avoid mosquito bites as much as possible and seek medical attention if a high fever occurs.


Malaria is a severe mosquito-transmitted blood infection. Prescribed malaria medications should be taken before, during and especially after returning from your travels. Failure to do so may result in contracting this preventable and extremely dangerous disease. The risk of acquiring malaria is not uniform from country to country, or even within countries, and depends on local conditions. TravelWell will advise you regarding any prophylaxis necessary for your trip.

No antimalarial drug is totally protective. These drugs should be supplemented by the use of protective clothing, insect repellent, screening and mosquito nets when possible. If you develop a fever after returning from a malaria-endemic region, especially within the first several months, contact TravelWell without delay and indicate your exposure to malaria.

From Your Pharmacy:

  • Antimalarials (as prescribed by your physician)
  • Insect repellent

Rabies (Animal Bites)

Rabies is a severe, deadly infection acquired from exposure to saliva from an infected mammal. This typically occurs via a bite; however, scratches that break the skin and saliva exposure to your mucous membranes (e.g., eyes or mouth) are also of concern.

Rabies is present in most of the world, though the typical animals that pass it vary in different countries. Stray dogs and cats in developing countries are of particular risk. Wild mammals, including bats, are also potential carriers. Since it is not possible to tell if a mammal is rabid by their appearance or behavior, and any animal bite can result in serious injury or infection, travelers are strongly advised to avoid contact with all wild and stray animals. Furthermore, since pet vaccination is not routine in much of the developing world, contact with pet dogs, cats and monkeys should be avoided. Aside from rabies, monkeys, bats, birds, and other animals are known to carry other dangerous infections, avoiding contact while traveling is a good idea.

Of particular concern are children, who are more likely to get bitten by animals. Furthermore, children often do not tell parents about bites or minor injuries from animals. Any animal bite, scratch or saliva exposure to mucous membranes (e.g., eyes or mouth) should be washed immediately, and urgent medical attention should be sought to determine whether or not rabies post-exposure treatment is needed. Urgent evacuation to a city or country with better health care resources might be necessary when appropriate treatment is not available locally.

Pre-exposure vaccination for rabies is recommended for some high-risk travelers. However, previously vaccinated individuals still require urgent rabies vaccine booster doses after a potential exposure.


Travelers who choose to have intimate contact with new partners are at increased risk for acquiring sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), including HIV infection and hepatitis B. Consistent and proper use of latex condoms can reduce the risk of HIV and STD infection.

Infections such as hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV can be transmitted via procedures performed without properly sterilized equipment or infection control. These might include tattoos, piercings, acupuncture, dental work, injections, intravenous infusions or cosmetic surgery. Manicures and razor shaves with unsterile equipment are also of concern. Should you need to seek health care, go to the center with the highest standards of care available. Since the blood supply in many countries is not fully screened for infections, transfusions should only be performed only in medical emergencies. If you experience severe illness or injury, medical evacuation to a country with higher-quality care might be advisable.